The Suffocating Effects of Perfectionism

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Since the first two syllables in the word perfectionism are “perfect,” that must mean that perfectionism is a good or even a great thing…something that we should all be striving for…right? Uhhh, unfortunately, that is wrong. Perfectionism is a very unhealthy “ism” that takes us away from enjoying each moment because we are hyper-vigilant in avoiding perceived failure or appearing imperfect.

In breaking apart the word, perfectionism, this happened:

* Perfect. A dictionary search online stated, Perfect is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” (Hell yeah, right?)

* Next up…perfection, is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” (Awesome…no defects!)

* Finally…perfectionism, where “life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It’s a fast track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders…What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure” (Psychology Today). (Oh yay…an endless toxic report card…)

In my blog about expectations, I discussed my drive to get all A’s in my Bachelors and Masters Programs, and how much of this was in an effort to avoid my perception of “failing.” This was unhealthy perfectionism…not getting the A’s but the reason why I had to get them. When I look in the mirror and focus on what is “wrong” over what is healthy and beautiful, this is perfectionism. When I write a blog and second, third, or fourth question it, this is perfectionism. It’s an attempt to escape judgment, criticism, shame or blame (Brene’ Brown)…many times from self. It’s about the fear of not being good enough.

What then, is the remedy for the ‘ism’ of trying to achieve a self-imposed perfect? Personally, I believe it’s all about self-compassion and authenticity. It’s about unraveling the messages that swirl inside your head and finding some underlying absolute truth to what makes you the unique and amazing person you are. It’s about understanding the reasons that you overachieve or run from perceived flaws or supposed failure. And…many times…it’s one step or issue at a time.

Have I ever said that this being human thing can be challenging? I think I have. One of the things that I hope to keep repeating (because it will truly change your life) is that it’s not about the situation, the body part, the report card, or the criticism from others that we struggle with…it’s what it means to us. Find your story under the one you tell yourself. Search for the reasons that you avoid judgment (see my blog on judgment) and notice that most of the judgment is self-imposed.

Perfection-ism is a powerfully damaging ‘ism.’ It will rob you of showing up, of happiness, of authentic connection, of living in the moment, and of giving others and yourself your best gift…authentic YOU. If perfectionism is something that has you in its grips, start with self-compassion and in the knowing that perfect is already who you are. Talk to someone…a spouse, significant other, friend, or coach.

Lastly, in my opinion, it’s all already perfect and perfection, even and especially the challenges. As Pitbull would say, “Every day above ground is a great day.” 🙂 The older I get, the absolute more I know that to be true. Until next time friends…many blessings.


Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who is dedicated toward helping others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, or relational problems. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling) and is passionate about inner healing. She works individually with clients and also presents workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. To contact her or to book a Holistic Coaching appointment, please visit karensolt.com.

Copywrite 2016 by Karen Solt, all right reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Karen Solt and karensolt.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

References:

Brene’ Brown. 20090. perfectionism and claiming shame. http://brenebrown.com/2009/03/18/2009318perfectionism-and-claiming-shame-html/

Psychology Today. 1991-2016. Perfectionism. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/perfectionism


 

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone? Five Things that Will Keep you from Pursuing your Passion…

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What gets in the way of pursuing our passion? How do we even know what our passion or dream is? I remember as a little girl I said that I wanted to be a counselor for abused children. How did I even think that as a child? Was that intuition that I didn’t question or was it just some fluke that came out of nowhere? Looking back now, I believe I had some feeling about my life’s future purpose of inner healing…a knowing intuitive compass. I took a number (a zillion) of detours, absolutely necessary life experiences, and eventually ended up back in line with that compass needle.

In doing this work, I find many who claim to be discontent, unhappy, and watching life speed up and slip by. We talk about the things that are getting in the way of being content. Some of these might be necessary to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. Yet there are other emotional barriers, five of which (my top five) I will touch on that I believe keeps people from growing and stepping out their comfort zone.

  1. Fear of Change. The human Ego craves control and predictability and struggles with change and unpredictability. Although a necessary part of being human, the Ego does whatever it can to keep you grounded and in familiar territory, even if that territory creates discomfort. Your spirit and your soul, on the other hand, want you to fly and to challenge yourself, and this takes courage away from the familiar and predictable life your Ego has spent many years controlling.
  1. Relationship Disruption. To pursue your passion probably will require support and sacrifice from loved ones. If you are a people pleaser or a caretaker (over-giver), it will appear that you are being selfish by taking ownership of and going toward your passion. You might feel resentment and anger from those who want you to stay in their comfort zone and it could feel like you are being disloyal by choosing you. This is challenging and many will sabotage their dreams and revert back to that discomfort zone. My advice? Talk to your loved ones about the importance of your vision and what it means to you. If they truly love and accept that this is important for you, they will understand and will also see that it’s important for them to keep working through their own challenges about your changes.
  1. Fear of Failure/Rejection. I believe many of us have a little voice inside of us that tells us we won’t succeed and, if we don’t try we give that voice validation. I’ve heard time and again how truly successful people failed over and over. If something is really important and feels purposeful, then I believe we owe it to ourselves to keep trying. This will require vulnerability to step out of that comfort zone and take some chances. It might mean three steps forward, two steps back or even six steps back. It will take courage and the possibility of rejection. My thoughts are that going for our dreams can never be failure but stumbling can sure feel like it.
  1. Fear of Success. Why would anyone be afraid of success? One of the problems with defining success is that it is unique to each of us. Even though we have the goal of breaking out of our comfort zone, it really is very predictable and extremely comfortable. Again, becoming successful at something new means a change in other aspects of our lives, not necessarily a negative change, but definitely a change and something that we can’t control. One other aspect of fearing success is getting there and discovering that it didn’t fix everything. New areas of discomfort might emerge, which is okay and necessary, but this fact can keep many stuck and not attempting that something new (“at least I know what I have if I stay where I’m at”).
  1. Fear of Being Creatively Vulnerable. In my previous blogs, I have discussed creativity wounding, a topic that I was first introduced to by Brene’ Brown. What I have personally learned is that exposing my creativity to the world has taken a lot of personal courage and, at times has been scary. The creative part of us is our art, it comes from a part of our brain that is not logical, and it is uniquely personal. It takes courage to allow that part of us to flow and, as far as I know, is the only way to allow ourselves to flow into the uncharted territory of finding our passion.

Ask yourself, “What would my future self want me to do about getting out of my comfort zone?” My guess is thaBehold-the-turtle.-He-makes-progress-only-when-he-sticks-his-neck-out.-Step-out-of-your-comfort-zonet, if you can look 10, 20, or 40 years down the road, your future self will be very grateful that you
walked through the challenges it took to expand your vision. You don’t have to change everything in your life all at once, just take a step toward your passion. Maybe start with a conversation with your spouse, partner, or a close friend or even start to journal about it. You might do what I did and get on the road and then see where it takes you. I promise it won’t be boring and I also promise you will learn more about the miracles of you that still remain hidden. My hope is that you find one area to break out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself. Until next time friends…many blessings.


Karen Solt is an Advanced Holistic Coach who is dedicated toward helping others discover the areas of their lives that are creating imbalance, discomfort, confusion, or relational problems. She holds a Masters in Psychology (Counseling) and is passionate about inner healing. She works individually with clients and also presents workshops and classes to others seeking inner growth, better relationships, addiction help, and ways to uncover hidden sabotage patterns. A retired Navy veteran, Karen has had various life experiences that have created her unique style of coaching of all walks of life. She can be contacted at solt.karen@gmail.com.